It is historically important that Cave is crossed by Via Francigena South, a route from the Middle Ages by pilgrims who went to the Holy Land and from those who tried to use paths less-travelled by malefactors and warmongers.
The ancient path in the lower part of the city, the one near the ancient medieval gate, is recognized and there are bridges crossing the culvert. Some of these are modern but others are definitely old, perhaps medieval?
Cave is located on a high ground surrounded by a culvert perfect for defense in the Middle Ages, but a disaster for peace-time connections when the wealth of a country is derived from the trading of local goods and productions.
It was clear that bridges should be built to encourage trade, and at Cave there are bridges of every age and style. Of the most impressive form and grace is a bridge of 1621, its lack of symmetry makes it particularly attractive and it is in a place loved by landscape artists.
Then we get to the eighteenth century and the power of neoclassicism with a majestic arched bridge, known as ‘old bridge’, on which progress and commerce could finally pass. There was an earthquake recently and that solid bridge inspired trust and certainty.
With the Cave Bridge trade flowered and a period of enthusiasm began that will emotionally lead to another new bridge. We arrived in 1904 and next to the eighteenth century bridge, a new bridge was built to accommodate both a road and the railway line of the Rome-Fiuggi line.
The bridge is one of the first reinforced concrete constructions and is a pride of engineering for the time. It would be the sign of a new socio-economic change in Cave. The arrival of the railway with the station opened Cave to thousands of people. With them came new ideas and new needs and Cave was chosen as a ‘hydro-climatic’ station for its cool in the summer and as a haven of refuge for the rich Romans.
In the early twentieth century a new floral or liberty style neighborhood was built in Cave and the town became known throughout Rome as a holiday resort.
The cars then brought new demands, and for them, the whole urban layout of the town definitively changed. The square in front of the Collegiate was opened on two sides to allow the passage of an important communication artery. Here again, the new road passed over an imposing reinforced concrete viaduct that widened the roadway that was otherwise too narrow for cars.
You cannot stop modernity!
The last bridge is the one that reconstructs the unity of the town, which combines the modern and the ancient ones. It is an iron and wood pedestrian bridge connecting the Renaissance and modern areas with the medieval sections.
With this latest infrastructure, the centre has come back to life, the section with the Ferri Museum and its Monumental Nativity scene is open, the municipality centred in the former convent of Santo Stefano is again the heart of the town.
The bridge practically retraces the last stretch of Via Francigena and, at sunset, gives the traveller the same medieval suggestions, but ‘on a new way’!